NAREP leader Elias Chipimo says the amended Constitution reaffirms the clauses in the old Constitution which barred a person who had held presidential office for two terms to re-contest.

Speaking when he featured on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme today , Chipimo said his view on President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility to re-contest in 2021 differed from the latter.

“But my views differ from those that were expressed by the President and I will tell you why. I will give you just one example, we can get very technical about this issue and we will lose people but maybe the simplest way I can put it is that there are some provisions within the amended constitution and those provisions basically point out certain things which already exist…So in the old Constitution we had what said ‘a person who has been elected twice as President shall not be eligible for re-election to that office’. In the amended Constitution, under 106, sub article 3, it says a ‘person who has twice held office as President is not eligible for election as president’. Meaning it is a restatement,” Chipimo said.

“Meaning that just like you wouldn’t reappoint the central bank governor or reestablish or reconstitute the central bank but there are those who argue that there is a three year provision. So let’s just try and put this issue to bed once and for all. This issue about three years actually relates to a provision in the Constitution…now sub article 6 starts by saying ‘if the vice-president assumes the office of president’, and then it goes on to state various things and then it says that ‘for the purposes of that sub-article 3, the one that says that you can’t be elected again if you have twice held office, it then says that ‘in respect of the vice-president, that three year period, that election shall not be deemed to have been a full term if it was not three years’.”

He insisted that the ‘three-year’ argument which most people who were supporting President Lungu’s bid to run again were quoting actually related to the vice-president.

“I think when you look at this in totality, you have to conclude that I think there is a continuity and a restatement just as you wouldn’t reappoint any of your officials who hold constitutional offices, you also wouldn’t say that this provision also starts to run afresh again from the time that the amendment comes into effect but it is just a clarification and a restatement and the three years doesn’t relate to the person who is elected, it relates to a vice-president who then assumes that office, whose term shall not be considered a term for purposes of re-election in sub article 3 if they don’t serve for three years. So that’s really the position as I see it,” Chipimo said.

“So now we bring ourselves to Zambia here where we are now. We have had a history of attempts at third term not just within the national presidency but also the presidency of various different political parties, so that we see that is an issue that is somehow problematic right across the board. So what does it do? It leads to anxiety within the party, within the nation, we are talking about it here. It has created some interest and excitement.”

Chipimo said declarations were capable of creating panic amongst the public.

“Such declarations creates a destruction because instead of focusing on the development issues, we are now going to be generating a debate around whether or not President Edgar Lungu is eligible,” he said.

And Chipimo said this debate could only be settled by the Constitutional Court.

“It probably is best that [this issue] is put to the Constitutional Court and let it settle the debate once for all but my clear view is that there is a continuity and that the three year argument really doesn’t help anybody to argue their case that somehow a person who has been somehow twice elected to the Office of the President can be elected again,” said Chipimo.